Palmetto Care Connections (PCC) http://palmettocareconnections.org a South Carolina telehealth network is focusing on improving access to care. PCC has been working along with the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance (SCTA) http://sctelehealth.org over the last few years to improve the health of state residents by increasing the use of telehealth.
Recently, SCTA released the “SCTA 2018 Strategic Plan” which includes their ideas on how to respond to the health needs of South Carolina’s citizens with an emphasis on individuals living in underserved and rural areas.
The plan describes how PCC is working to coordinate existing telehealth and telemedicine activities, and their plans to expand successful models such as the South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s telepsychiatry program and the Medical University of South Carolina’s REACH or telestroke program.
One of the first steps is to increase the number of rural healthcare sites that are connected to broadband and these sites need to use telehealth services since many of these areas are underserved and/or rural areas.
In March 2018, PCC and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) held a planning meeting to discuss these issues. Next, PCC and MUSC identified sites located in high priority counties that includes providers seeing patients where there is low broadband connectivity.
Discussions were undertaken regarding the need for installing broadband and subsequently telehealth services. By September 2018, PCC and MUSC will release their report on the progress made identifying these county sites and also include information on the potential alternative sources of funding.
In addition, discussions were held with PCC and MUSC to find ways to equip additional providers in rural and underserved areas with more technology and training in order to provide efficient telehealth services.
The last step entails using telehealth to help provide access in rural and underserved areas to effectively manage chronic diseases. This entailed studying the prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes in rural parts of the state in terms of resources, initiatives, and programs already in place.
By June 2018, the goal is to identify care models using telehealth to combat chronic diseases in rural communities and then select a rural South Carolina community to provide the full continuum of care model. The next step will be to communicate with providers in the chosen rural community to gain their input and buy-in on the chronic care model.
Go to https://www.sctelehealth.org/Home/StrategicPlan to view the SCTA 2018 Strategic Plan.